Balls to the Wall
rating: +25+x

The halls were still. The halls were always still, or at least they were supposed to be. But this was the Foundation, and plenty of things could make hallways move if they really wanted to.

The halls were “still” as in “quiet,” which, contrary to the halls’ state of moving or not moving, was rather unusual indeed.

The halls were quite stationary, but they were also completely empty of people. Deep in the underground belly of Site-19 gathered scores of Foundation employees, packed into the cafeteria and the break rooms like many, many hamsters in Shop Vac suction hose. In their hands they clutched things; cheap plastic and paper things, shiny and loud things. Things for a very specific purpose, a purpose for which all eyes of every not-immediately-essential employee were trained on their inboxes. A thousand faces watching a thousand screens for one single message.

Site-19 held its collective thousands of breaths.

Site-19’s hands held their collection of shiny loud things.

Nobody moved. Especially not the halls.


The halls trembled with the impact of thousands of fingers on thousands of phone screens to open one single email.

“For the purposes of continued efficiency, we would like to remind the staff that today’s designation of an SCP-42069 was a rumor and a rumor ONLY. Due to staff’s overall lack of professionalism and juvenile behavior regarding this event, the O5 council has advised “42069” never be used in conjunction with any SCP, Mobile Task Force, or any operation given a numerical designation, until such a time when Foundation personnel can “grow up and start acting like adults.” Please return to your jobs as usual. Today is not a holiday. You all have work to do.
- Chief of Staff L. Martinez”

And deep in the bowels of the underground top secret facility, on floor 15A, in one of two break rooms affectionately designated The Small One, Dr. Tobias Jay, a distinguished man with graying hair and a cleanly-pressed shirt, huffed spray paint out of a paper bag.

“WHAT?!” roared a security guard in full tactical gear. Her outburst disturbed the paper party hat taped to the top of her helmet. Her small plastic kazoo clicked off the floor as she hurled it to the ground. She wished it made a louder noise.

With the crackle of a lighted cigarette, a dark-suited figure with an immaculately-styled bun spoke from the corner of the room. She had pulled a chair over there from the break room table, because the table was not in a dark corner, and she only sat in dark corners.

“This is how it goes, Stuart. You think the Foundation will save you, but in the end they’ll all stab you in the back.” She took a drag from her cigarette and exhaled the smoke through one of those round noisemakers with the fan inside that goes VWEEEE when you blow through it.

“Hang on, let me crunch the numbers.” added the final person in the room, a short and rotund young researcher. He had a name tag that just said “Jeremy” and nothing else, and a calculator watch which looked exactly as cool as calculator watches always do (which is very cool). Brow furrowing in feverish concentration, Researcher Jeremy punched a series of numbers into his calculator watch, squinting through his Foundation-mandated glasses at the results. All Foundation researchers are required to wear glasses, otherwise nobody would know that they are researchers.

“According to my calculations,” said Researcher Jeremy, “this is bullshit.”

“Let me see that!” said Dr. Jay, grabbing the calculator to judge the outcome for himself.

“Ow,” said Researcher Jeremy, who was still attached to the calculator.

“Bullshit,” said the screen of the calculator that was still attached to Researcher Jeremy.

Dr. Jay rubbed his silver, paint-stained chin thoughtfully. “Hmm. You’re right. This IS bullshit.”

“It’s ALL bullshit.” growled Agent Nadira from her dark-ish corner, “Deep down, we all know this whole operation is just a power-trip for our superiors.” Behind her black sunglasses she was scanning the room for a light switch she could turn off to make the room darker. It was very important that her peers see how cool and orange her cigarette looked from the shadows.

“I WAITED SIX MONTHS FOR THIS!” Officer Stuart bellowed.

“Now, now, Officer Stuart.” Dr. Jay crooned calmly, leaning over the break room table and steepling his fingers in the Foundation-universal gesture for indicating to your coworkers that you are an ambiguously unethical scientist. He continued. “Maybe the O5s can take our singular reason to live, but they can’t take our ice cream cake”

Four sets of eyes shifted to the cake in question, decorated with blue and white icing, topped with words reading “Happy SCP-42069 Day, This Is It Folks, This Is Why We’re All Here, Now That This Has Happened We Can All Die Knowing Our True Purpose Was Fulfilled, Humanity Is Saved At Last, Or At Least We Are, This Is The Only Good Thing That Has Ever Happened To The Foundation, Thank You And Goodnight.”

The occupants of the Small Break Room gazed upon it reverently.

Four cell phone alerts heralded the arrival of a new message.


Dr. Jay sprayed a fresh bout of paint into his paper bag.

“All staff are advised that a sweep of break rooms and common spaces will commence over the next hour. Please clean up any party supplies and return to your jobs. Any party supplies found during the sweep will be confiscated. Thank you.”

Officer Stuart’s tree-trunk legs rattled the plastic table as she leapt onto the surface, taking position over the ice cream cake like an outraged swan protecting a brood of one large and frozen rectangular egg. “THEY’RE GOING TO TAKE OUR-”

She was interrupted by the wheezing, reaper-like gasp inhale from Dr. Jay as he hit the Krylon again. He looked up, mouth even more silver than a few moments ago. “Apologies. I’m very stressed.”

Officer Stuart took a less-than-cleansing breath and spoke, her visor muffling her voice but not doing much to disguise the way it brittled with the effort not to freak out, not to absolutely lose her shit, “They’re going to take our cake, Dr. Jay…”

“Not without a fight, they’re not.”

“A fight?” asked Officer Stuart, warily.

“A FIGHT?!” asked Agent Nadira, enthusiastically.

Dr. Jay stood up, his chair tipping backwards and clattering to the linoleum floor, and threw up his arm to point at the array of intercom buttons on the wall beside the microwave.


Despite an entire lack of actual instructions, Researcher Jeremy knew this particular invocation of his name to mean “revolution.” And if anyone could be trusted to lead a revolution, it was Junior Researcher Jeremy. Researcher Jeremy pressed a button on the panel in the wall, ceremoniously activating the intercom system that connected all of the break rooms to each other and to no other areas of the building, a feature that Site-19 always had since the beginning.

“BAR THE DOORS, THEY CAN’T FIRE ALL OF US.” said Researcher Jeremy, to all the break rooms in the entire site all at once.

“They can fire most of us.” Dr. Jay pointed out.

“BAR THE DOORS, THEY CAN’T FIRE SOME OF US.” amended Researcher Jeremy.

The halls rumbled with the heavy metal screeching of tables and chairs being pushed against break room doors.

Officer Stuart shoved a large metal filing cabinet in front of their particular door, settling it like a dull gray obelisk of protection right beside the metal Ikea chair that Agent Nadira had wedged underneath the door handle. The cake was safe, although it was unclear for how long this would remain the case.

It would remain the case for the next 17 minutes.

The door handle didn’t jiggle on account of how the security guards outside had definitely anticipated the barricade. They knew very well how much Foundation employees loved to barricade things. Instead, their arrival was signaled by a deliberate, exasperated rap on the door.

“This is Officer Graves, please open the door.”

“Uhhhh, it’s open!” lied Officer Stuart. She wiped the back of her gloved hand across the top of her visor, which did nothing to help the sweaty state of her brow, which was underneath the visor. Noticing Officer Stuart’s clear anxiety, Dr. Jay stood from his chair and calmly approached the door, clasping his paint-stained fingers behind his back in a definitively scholarly manner.

“It's open," he confirmed.

"No, it's not." said Officer Graves.

"Yes, it is." said Dr. Jay.

"It's definitely not, I've already been to, like, four other breakrooms and they all barricaded the doors."

"Check the door, Officer Graves."

"I'm not- I don't want to check the door."

"What if I'm telling the truth? And you look like a big dumb stupid idiot? Then what? You don't want to look like a big dumb stupid idiot in front of all your cool friends, do you?"

A palpable silence.

The jiggle of a door handle.

And then a pause, one heavy with the exhausted sigh Officer Graves was definitely giving on the opposite side of the door, “…Please open the door, Dr. Jay. This is absurd.”

“Not until you hear our demands.” added Researcher Jeremy, who had been through dozens of hostage situations and knew, even by the fresh age of 26, exactly how to handle this scenario.

Officer Graves conceded. “Okay…”

“We’re keeping the cake.”

“And the party hats!”

“And the party hats.”

“You… we can’t let you keep the party stuff, sir,” Officer Graves went on, voice growing heavier with defeat with every passing second, “The higher-ups are like, actually really mad about this.”

Agent Nadira gave a cold, mocking half-laugh and another drag from her cigarette, “Tell the higher-ups they can suck my chronic debilitating depression.”

Another silent few seconds, and Officer Graves made his concession. “I’m leaving to go take care of a few other break rooms, if you can get everything together in the next fifteen minutes or so, I’d really appreciate it.”

“OFFICER GRAVES IS COMING FOR YOUR PARTY FOOD, EVERYBODY STAY ON HIGH ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” Researcher Jeremy broadcast through the break room intercom.

“Yep. Okay. Thanks, thank you for that. I’m- I’m leaving now.”

Dr. Jay, Researcher Jeremy, Agent Nadira and Officer Stuart pressed their ears and/or helmets to the door, listening with feverish focus to the receding tap of Officer Graves’ steps as he retreated down the hall.

Agent Nadira spun around, the high-pitched squeak of her stiletto heels on the linoleum rivaled in volume and sharpness only by the piercing gasp she gave upon viewing the state of their precious ice cream cake. Somehow, in the commotion, they had all forgotten one of the defining traits of ice cream. And whether from the passage of time or the stress of the situation, the cake had softened into a thick, sticky puddle.

Researcher Jeremy evaluated the circumstance with quick efficiency, immediately pulling open several counter drawers open in search for implements he and his comrades could use to eat their cake. He found one drawer full of napkins, one full of paper plates, one that was two feet deep with a very tiny man in a cage at the bottom, and one full of half-used paper towel rolls. He turned around to Dr. Jay, his expression severe.

“There are no forks in here.”

Dr. Jay huffed, disbelievingly and anxiously and paint. “Are there spoons?”

“There are not spoons.”

“What does your calculator say?”

Jeremy took the next moment clicking numbers into his watch.

The calculator screen read “Forks=0, Spoons=Also 0.”

"We have these," said Officer Stuart. Clutched in one tactical-gloved fist was a handful of chopsticks.

Dr. Jay rolled up his sleeves. Sometimes at the Foundation, one had to take risks, or dares, or similar dangerous actions. It was all part of the job. He knew that, Jr. Researcher Jeremy knew that. Agent Nadira and Officer Stuart knew that. Officer Graves knew it too. So Dr. Jay made the difficult choice, scraped spray paint off his fingernail, and picked up a pair of chopsticks.

"We only have fifteen minutes."

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